Brewster Buffalo

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by Snautzer01, Sep 25, 2016.

  1. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2009
    Messages:
    3,095
    Likes Received:
    453
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
  2. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Messages:
    47,558
    Likes Received:
    1,426
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A retired military Navigator/ATC, FIS controller
    Location:
    Poland
  3. Greg Boeser

    Greg Boeser Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Here is an aircraft that demonstrates that its not the aircraft, but the pilot flying the aircraft. Highly trained and aggressive Finnish Air Force pilots racked up enormous kill claims flying against poorly trained Soviet pilots from 41-43, and was the most successful aircraft in the Finnish Air Force until the arrival of Bf 109s in mid '43.
    In American and Commonwealth hands, poorly trained pilots hampered by bad leadership were completely outclassed by highly trained and aggressive Japanese pilots flying aircraft that were in many ways inferior to the Buffalo.
     
    • Dislike Dislike x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    11,088
    Likes Received:
    1,044
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Heavy Equipment Operator
    Location:
    Jungles of Canada
  5. Old Wizard

    Old Wizard Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,283
    Likes Received:
    184
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Lethbridge AB
  6. LDSModeller

    LDSModeller Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Quite a number of Commonwealth Pilots (Aussie & Kiwi) made Ace or 3 or more kills, flying the Buffalo.
    The likes of Geoff Fisken (Highest Scoring Commonwealth Pilot in the Pacific) developed tactics that beat the Japanese. To say that the all Commonwealth pilots were out classed is not true. The Commonwealth pilots proved just as aggresive in taking the fight to the Japanese. Two to one kill ratio to the Commonwealth and Dutch pilots says enough.
    Poor early warning was a major factor, once the pilots were able to get in the air, more often than not the raiders had moved on. The .50 cal MG the Buffalo was armed with proved to be a major issue in working properly.
    The Dutch Buffalos with the higher powered engine could match the Japanese. Bad enginerring choices by Brewster in using 2nd hand engines proved to be a hampering, the pilots could do with out.
    The other contributing factor was superior numbers won out in the end for the Japanese.
    As for bad leadership, higher ranking maybe, 488 Squadron had 3 Battle of Britain veteran pilots who provided very good leadership, in taking the fight to the Japanese.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. Greg Boeser

    Greg Boeser Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Geoff Fisken was certainly an exceptional pilot, having well over 250 hours in the Buffalo before the Japanese attacked. When you quote kill ratios, are these based on claims or comparing actual losses?
     
  8. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Noooooo. See LSDModeller's post.
     
  9. Greg Boeser

    Greg Boeser Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    I never said ALL Commonwealth pilots were poor. Most were inexperienced. Fisken was by his own admission one of the most experienced Buffalo pilots and did very well. The comparison I was trying to make was the relative quality of pilots flying the Buffalo. LLV 24 was the cream of the Finnish crop, stocked with highly trained veterans and aces of the Winter War. They viewed the F2A as the first choice of the aircraft they had available. Often flying outnumbered they lost very few aircraft against everything the Soviets had to throw at them, I-15s to Yaks. In the Far East, the Commonwealth pilots were mostly fresh out of flight school and most had little transition time in the Buffalo before being called on to defend the Realm. Maintenance was also an issue, the trouble with the guns was a major factor, but also engine problems abounded. This I hold against the leadership, who did more damage than the Japanese in some cases. The loss of 4 out of 6 pilots on 25 December over Rangoon must be laid at the feet of the commander, who after a full two weeks since the start of hostilities still had not installed the pilot armor in most of his planes.
     
    • Dislike Dislike x 1
  10. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Why were they poorly trained? Give evidence to say their training was poor? Inexperience doesn't equate to poor training - you're getting the two confused. Inadequate to deal with the threat maybe, but look at the circumstances; there were relatively experienced RAF pilots - some of whom were Battle of Britain aces (including 12 victory ace Wilf Clouston, a New Zealander) on the ground in Singapore and the British forces were utterly overwhelmed by the Japanese, was this because their training was poor? Keep digging; you'll get to the bottom eventually.

    I think blaming the commanding officers for not fitting armour to the Buffalo for failure on one day's fighting is a little simplistic, don't you think? Even if armour plating had been fitted, the end result would have been the same - the fall of Singapore and did the Finns have the same issues of lack of armour plating? The British and Commonwealth forces could have had Spitfires and the end result would have been the same. The situation between the Finns and the RAF in Singapore were vastly different and the result was not because of 'poor' training, nor was it because of the incompetence of commanders on the ground.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,185
    Likes Received:
    2,027
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    I might step in here and make a comment regarding "poorly trained American pilots".
    Both my Great Uncles were in the United States Army Air Corps and received the full measure of pilot training before the war. It was a time consuming and rigorous course that many candidates did not graduate. The Japanese school was no better than the American school, which was no better than the British school, which was no better than the German school. You can see how attrition lowered the quality of the Japanese and Luftwaffe pilots as the war drug on because the length of the pilot training was literally cut from months to weeks.

    The fact of the matter is, the Japanese had been at war for years before the U.S. became involved and this must be taken into consideration when comparing Japanese versus U.S. performance in the early days.

    Experience in the cockpit will take priority over the aircraft every time.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2009
    Messages:
    3,095
    Likes Received:
    453
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    The RAF and USAF were trained al be it with the antiquated tactics. You will (and they did) lose in the larger picture.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,174
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    #13 buffnut453, Sep 28, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
    Many of the RAF pilots lacked adequate training as they were products of the rapidly-expanded EATS which pushed pilots through a much-shortened training programme. The training was pared down to bare minima compared to the pre-war training system.

    In addition, many Buffalo pilots were inexperienced. Several had never flown an aircraft with an enclosed cockpit, flaps or retractable undercarriage until they did their "conversion course" on the 6 Wirraways of W Flt. Combat experience was even more sparsely spread. Across all 5 RAF Buffalo squadrons in the Far East, I count only 7 pilots that had combat experience in single-engine fighters prior to the Japanese attacks:
    • Sqn Ldr Howell (CO of 243 Sqn)
    • Sqn Ldr Harper (CO of 453 Sqn)
    • Sqn Ldr Clouston (CO of 488 Sqn)
    • Flt Lt MacKenzie, 488 Sqn
    • Flt Lt Pinckney, 67 Sqn
    • Flt Lt Vigors, 243 Sqn/453 Sqn
    • F/O Wigglesworth, 67 Sqn
    Some 113 pilots flew Buffalos operationally during the fighting for Malaya and Singapore. That means only 6.2% of the pilots had any operational fighter experience. I'd be interested to know whether any other similarly-sized group of RAF fighter squadrons in late-1941 had such a low level of combat experience.
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,185
    Likes Received:
    2,027
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    And yet the Japanese were surprised at the fight that the US put up with their P-40s and P-36s during the Pearl Harbor attack.

    The U.S. was not lacking in tactics, they had obervers (and volunteer pilots) involved in the Battle of Britain, the Spanish Civil War and overseas in Asia. They also had modern (for the day) advanced trainer aircraft like the Seversky AT-12, the North American AT-6/SNJ, SNJ-1 and similar types.

    The limiting factor that put the US pilots (Army/Navy) at a huge disadvantage, was their experience.
     
  15. Greg Boeser

    Greg Boeser Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    You are correct. I mischaracterized the pilots as poorly trained. Inexperienced is the word I should have used. As in no experience with aerial gunnery, combat flying, etc. Many pilots in the Phillipines had just graduated flight school and had almost no time in fighters at the outbreak of hostilities.
    That the Japanese were surprised by the fight put up is a symptom of their own propaganda that all westerners were soft.
     
  16. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,185
    Likes Received:
    2,027
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    Perhaps one of the biggest problems the Allied pilots had, in dealing with the Japanese early on, is that they were trying to fight them with European tactics with aircraft that simply were not on a par with the Ki-43 and early A6M types and they faced a huge learning curve until newer, more agile types were introduced, that could counter the Japanese types' performance.

    Until then, they learned to rely on their better armor and tactics like the "Thatch Weave" to survive.
     
  17. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2009
    Messages:
    3,095
    Likes Received:
    453
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    The Japanese lost more planes in incidents in landing after attack 2 nd wave that they lost in combat. I do not think the very few they lost against fighters would have bothered them much.

    There is a nice piece on the Pearl attack in this (see pic)

    Clipboard00.jpg
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,174
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    #18 buffnut453, Sep 29, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
    I think this is a bit of an oversimplification. For example, VMF-221 at Midway (just to bring it back to Buffalos) weren't using "European tactics", and I doubt greatly that the P-40s in the Philippines adopted anything other than USAAF doctrine and tactics. There isn't much evidence regarding the tactics used by RAF Buffalos, although Geoff Fisken did mention changing from turning tactics to boom-and-zoom (akin to the AVG) to improve odds of survival. There are well-known pre-conflict photos of a full squadron-sized Buffalo formation (243 Sqn were the protagonists) flying in nice tight vics. If that tactical formation was in use across all Buffalo squadrons, then that indicates some dated thinking about even the European tactical environment where, by late 1941, the 3-ship vic was being replaced by the battle pair and "finger four". Here's one of the well-known pics of the 243 Sqn formation showing clearly the vic tactical units:

    [​IMG]

    The other tactical consideration that must be stated is the lack of flexibility displayed by Air HQ Far East (AHQFE) in Singapore when it came to planning and directing operations. There seems to have been a mantra that bombers were the only assets to be used for attack while fighters were solely for defence. Rather than tackling the IJAAF head-on in the air, it is my considered opinion that far greater damage could have been achieved if AHQFE had ordered Buffalo strafing missions against Japanese-occupied airfields in Thailand and, later, northern Malaya. Japanese airfield defences weren't great and a series of massed attacks, similar to the AVG raid on Chieng Mai, could have dealt a major blow to IJAAF operations and air dominance in Malaya. The Buffalo was a very capable strafing platform, as evidenced by Tsuji's account of the Malayan Campaign (although he misidentifies the strafing aircraft as Hurricanes).
     
  19. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Messages:
    6,976
    Likes Received:
    570
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Bioinformatician
    Location:
    Dordrecht
    Most forget when discussing the merits an faults of the buffalo, the tactical situation they were in. I speak for the NEI as I know that situation best. The NEI area is the same size as the whole of Europe and was defended by around 80 buffalo's, part of which was used to help the British defend Singapore. So the line was very thin. There was no early warning to speak off. In such a situation, the attacker based on carriers has an enormeous advantage. He can strike where he wants and at the height wants, always having the height advantage. Even a very good aircraft would struggle in that situation. Hurricanes in the far East almost had a worse record than the buffalo while they could hold their ground during the BoB. Dutch pilots were not badly trained not inexperienced, maybe the commonwealth were, I don't know. The comparison with Finland is not fair as it is a totally different situation. And the Japanese were a much more formidable enemy than the USSR at that time.
     
  20. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,185
    Likes Received:
    2,027
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    VMF-221 at Midway was no more experienced than the Army pilots at Pearl, and all pilots (Army/Navy/Marines) at that point in time had gone through pilot training stateside that was based on the tactics and techniques that were gleaned from the war (hands-on, direct observation, intelligence sharing) in Europe that was already underway.

    While there was a rough idea of Japanese tactics and aircraft capabilities and weaknesses, it would be a hard learning curve for the Allied pilots in the PTO/CBI and this would be passed on to training units stateside who would then adapt the current training for the new trainees.
     
Loading...

Share This Page